May 27, 2015

Washington’s Al Qaeda doesn’t exist and never did

al qaedaTAMPA, December 11, 2013 — For twelve years, the Bush and Obama Administrations have promoted a narrative about the War on Terror. It has changed slightly in superficial ways, as when President Obama gave it a new name, but the crux of the narrative has not changed. The United States is fighting a war against a worldwide terrorist organization called al-Qaeda, formerly headed by über-terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Americans are led to believe that this organization has a single mission against the United States and is directed by a hierarchy of terrorist leaders, all reporting up to a senior command located somewhere in Afghanistan. Many of the lawmakers and cabinet personnel who promote this narrative likely believe it themselves, at least to some degree.

Washington sees al-Qaeda the way it sees itself, a centralized, top-down hierarchy with a chain of command reporting up from every corner of the earth. It makes for a good story, but it’s not even remotely true. Virtually every incident involving this fictional organization refutes the narrative.

Veteran reporter Eric Margolis never did. He’s been reporting on the true nature of the Islamic militant groups from the very beginning. He should know what he’s talking about. He was embedded in Afghanistan in the 1980’s when bin Laden and what is now Al Qaeda and the Taliban were U.S. allies, fighting the Soviet Union.

For what it’s worth, bin Laden and other Islamic militants apparently regarded Margolis’ reporting as accurate. He was named as one of a small group of reporters who “fairly and accurately reported on the region” in alleged Al Qaeda letters released last year. Commenting on that release in “Osama’s Almost Letter to Me,” Margolis wrote,

“Al-Qaida was not founded by Osama bin Laden, as many wrongly believe, but in the mid-1980’s in Peshawar, Pakistan, by a revolutionary scholar, Sheik Abdullah Azzam.

I know this because I interviewed Azzam numerous times at al-Qaida HQ in Peshawar while covering the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. Azzam set up al-Qaida, which means “the base” in Arabic, to help CIA and Saudi-financed Arab volunteers going to fight in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. In those days, the west hailed them as “freedom fighters.”

Margolis goes on to report that neither Al Qaeda in Afghanistan nor the Taliban had anything to do with 9/11. Their raison d’etre is fighting foreign troops within their borders. When the invaders were Soviet, they fought the Soviets, using similar but updated tactics to those previously used against the British. When the invaders were American, they fought the Americans. That’s what they do. Thus Afghanistan’s ominous nickname, “Graveyard of Empires.”

According to this alternate narrative, the “extremists” in Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11 nor any tangible connection to the group that perpetrated the attacks. Those were mostly Saudi Arabian nationals who planned the attack in Hamburg, Germany and Madrid. The only thing the attackers had in common with Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan was hatred of the United States. But they hated the United States for different reasons.

The 9/11 attackers, being Saudi, most likely hated America for precisely the reason Osama bin Laden stated: U.S. bases in the Muslim holy land and (secondarily) its support for Israel. Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan hated America because the United States invaded, ignoring the Taliban’s quite reasonable request for the U.S. to produce evidence of bin Laden’s guilt before demanding his extradition.

What Washington is calling “Al Qaeda in Syria” is also a completely different group. They exist to overthrow the Assad regime. Since that regime is a longtime ally of Russia’s, the U.S. has actually supported these rebels, amidst heavy criticism from within Washington’s ranks that the Obama administration is supporting Al Qaeda. This was apparently confirmed when Syrian Jabhat al Nusra Front chief Abou Mohamad al-Joulani pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Sheik Ayman al-Zawahri.

However, the pledge of allegiance actually supports the alternative narrative, not Washington’s. It is apparent from the reports on the pledge that the Syrian group had no previous connection to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. It came immediately following an announcement by the Islamic State of Iraq that al Nusra was part of its network.

The ISI is one of many militant groups that filled the vacuum left after the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and which had no active presence before Saddam Hussein’s regime was toppled. ISI similarly pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in 2004 while fighting U.S. forces in Iraq.

According to The Telegraph’s April 10, 2013 report, Syria’s al-Nusra pledges allegiance to al-Qaeda,” al-Joulani (al Jawlani) was quick to clarify the relationship with ISI:

“We inform you that neither the al-Nusra command nor its consultative council, nor its general manager were aware of this announcement [the announcement by ISI]. It reached them via the media and if the speech is authentic, we were not consulted,” Jawlani said…We reassure our brothers in Syria that al-Nusra Front’s behaviour will remain faithful to the image you have come to know, and that our allegiance (to al-Qaeda) will not affect our politics in any way,” he added.”

In other words, the Syrian rebel group al Nusra was a group organized around toppling the Assad regime in Syria. It pledged allegiance to what Washington calls “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” but which is really the ISI. The ISI in turn was a group organized to fight U.S. forces in Iraq, with the long term goal of establishing an Islamic state there after U.S. forces withdrew.

None of these groups were part of a worldwide, centralized organization to fight the “Great Satan.” Instead, they are all disparate groups which formed for different, localized reasons and discovered after the fact that they all had a common enemy, the United States. The one exception to this is the group in Syria, whose western, industrialized enemy is Russia. That is why “al Qaeda in Syria” has sought to work with the United States instead of fight against it. The United States is useful in its goal of toppling the Assad regime and establishing an Islamic state in Syria.

All of this leads to one, inescapable conclusion. The United States has accomplished nothing in twelve years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Iraq War actually expanded the presence of Islamic militant groups and led to a fundamentalist Islamic state there, with strong ties to Iran.

Rather than waging a war against a centralized, top-down organization with divisions in several Middle Eastern countries and agents embedded all over the world, Washington is actually playing a deadly game of “whack a mole,” with new moles popping up out of new holes every time Washington swings its mallet.

That means that triumphant announcements about killing “the number three man in Al Qaeda” mean absolutely nothing. That Al Qaeda hierarchy doesn’t exist. Instead, independent groups all over the world discover a kinship with each other all centered around one phenomenon: U.S. intervention in their nations. Intervention could be military, covert or merely aid to a local dictator.

Iranian militants hate America because the CIA helped overthrow their democratically-elected government in 1953 and then maintained the hated Shah as dictator there for almost three decades afterwards.

Militant groups in Saudi Arabia hate America for maintaining the Kingdom of Saud and for the additional insult of previously garrisoning troops in their holy land.

Militant groups in Iraq hate America for first supporting Saddam Hussein over the wishes of the Shiite majority and then destroying their country when Hussein became troublesome for the United States.

Militant groups in Afghanistan hate America merely because they are the latest western empire to invade their homeland. It will soon be apparent that they have expelled the United States the same way they did the Soviet and British empires.

The Tsarnaev brothers took direction from no one overseas. They just dreamed up their horrible crime and executed it. Their stated reason? U.S. military interventions in the Middle East.

That doesn’t mean the terrorists are justified. If a wife catches her husband with another woman and shoots him, no reasonable person would conclude that she “hated her husband for his freedom.” Acknowledging that cheating on her was the reason she shot him is not the same as condoning the murder. If she confesses to the murder and states her motive, nobody questions it.

Given the complete failure to accomplish anything in twelve years of war, the true, decentralized nature of the various Islamist groups and the likelihood that new ones will emerge wherever Washington intervenes, nonintervention seems to be the only effective way for Washington to reduce the risk of terrorism in the United States.

Washington should have learned this from the Cold War. Wherever nations succeeded in establishing communism, including in Viet Nam after the U.S. withdrawal, communism eventually died of natural causes. The only places it still exists is Cuba and North Korea, both still under siege by the U.S. military. The U.S. military presence in and sanctions on both countries have kept communist regimes in power long after their shelf life, solely because the people rally around their leaders in the face of a foreign threat.

History is repeating itself. Islamic fundamentalism is the new communism. The difference is that the U.S. is no longer capable of squandering its resources for decades whacking moles. It’s time to start playing the game smart, before America loses it for good.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

The War on Terror has not made us freer or safer

Enduring FreedomTAMPA, December 5, 2013 — There has been predictable bluster about President Obama signing a deal with five other nations to begin the process of lifting sanctions on Iran in exchange for commitments by Iran not to develop nuclear weapons. Neoconservatives have howled that it abandons U.S. ally Israel and endangers the entire planet.

Regardless, it is a harbinger of things to come. Economic reality is forcing the United States to change its interventionist foreign policy. Normalizing relations with Iran is just one part of that puzzle. Without a realistic political solution to crushing entitlement liabilities, the only place to make meaningful cuts is in military spending.

As the U.S. government comes to grips with the inevitable, Americans should expect to hear quite a bit about the end of a decade of war and of the sacrifices so many have made to “accomplish the mission.”

There’s no doubt about the sacrifice, both in blood and treasure. It’s the accomplishments that should be evaluated with a high degree of skepticism.

A good percentage of the public seems to regard the Iraq War as a colossal mistake. President Bush took the fall for that, as did the Republican Party in two straight elections. President Obama campaigned successfully on the argument that Iraq was “the wrong war.” The United States should be concentrating on Afghanistan, he argued, from whence the 9/11 attacks and other terrorism supposedly originated.

Americans seem to accept this premise implicitly, but it is far-fetched justification for a decade of war and $5 trillion in additional debt.

Despite most of the 9/11 attackers being Saudi Arabian, Americans were told that Afghanistan must be invaded because Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda army enjoyed a safe haven there, where they “radicalized” new Islamic terrorists in a network of paramilitary training camps. By invading Afghanistian, Americans were told, the U.S. government could break up the camps and greatly diminish the threat of terrorism.

It all makes good sound bites, but almost none of it has any connection to reality. There is credible evidence that the 9/11 attacks were planned in Hamburg, Germany, not in Afghanistan. Whether that’s true or not, minimal critical thinking skills are required to arrive at the conclusion that an attack like 9/11 could be planned anywhere.

The Tsarnaev brothers proved that last April. Immediately following the attacks, there were several reports of authorities trying to establish that the elder Tsarnaev had traveled to Dagestan to “become radicalized.” This was a desperate attempt to keep the narrative going. Terrorists like Tsarnaev have to go somewhere in order to become fully committed to crimes like the Boston bombing.

Otherwise, the U.S. government really wasn’t accomplishing anything by invading and occupying Middle Eastern countries.

Ultimately, authorities concluded that Tsarnaev had changed his mind about joining a militant group in Dagestan and had been radicalized right here in the USA.

Whoops.

For the second time in two generations, America has spent over a decade at war in third world countries thousands of miles away. With the Taliban officially part of negotiations and likely to be a major force in post-war Afghanistan, if they don’t return to power altogether, Americans should face some harsh realities.

The first is that twelve years of war in the Middle East has accomplished absolutely nothing. There is no cause and effect relationship between the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the risk of new terrorist attacks in the United States. There never really was. It just sounded good when passions were high and the government felt it had to “do something.”

It hasn’t made Americans freer at home, either. On the contrary, the past decade has seen American society adopt a national security state footing that bears far too much resemblance to 1930’s Germany. There might not be concentration camps or mass murders, but Americans certainly live in a “Papers, please” culture, complete with surveillance cameras on every corner and drones flying overhead.

It’s important to face these facts and learn from history if American doesn’t want to remain doomed to repeat it. America should mourn the dead, take care of the wounded and try to put its finances in order. But don’t let the government put a smiley face on this debacle.

Otherwise, our children may find themselves fighting the next unnecessary war. They already have to pay for this one.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

9/11 happens every day to victims of U.S. foreign policy

911 happens every dayTAMPA, September 11, 2013 — Twelve years after terrorists perpetrated the most deadly crime ever committed on American soil, Americans still hold vigils and other events to commemorate the tragedy.

The 9/11 attack shocked the nation in a way people outside the western hemisphere probably cannot understand. Unlike most nations, Americans have not seen a war at home in over a century.

For the host nations of hot wars, 9/11 happens every week.

NBC reports that 9-12 civilians were killed by a NATO airstrike in Afghanistan on Saturday. According to Abdul Ghani Mosamam, spokesman for the Governor of Kunar Province, four Taliban insurgents and 12 civilians died. The civilians were four men, four women and four children. NATO denies any civilians were killed, but no one denies that civilians are killed in airstrikes and offensives. Thus the term, “collateral damage.”

For the civilian victims, every strike is their own personal 9/11. Missiles raining down from the sky and destroying buildings, killing loved ones and rendering others homeless is no less terrifying than what happened in New York City in 2001. One might argue that the New York City attacks killed far more people than last Saturday’s NATO attack in Afghanistan, but that misses the point.

Attacks like Saturday’s are routine in Afghanistan, as they were for eight years in Iraq. The death toll of innocent civilians is in the hundreds of thousands. The refugees number in the millions. For the people of Iraq, 9/11 happened every day for eight long years. It wasn’t two buildings. It was whole cities and their entire civilization that was reduced to rubble.

Americans simply have no concept of what the face of war at home really looks like. Outside of Pearl Harbor, an attack by military men on a military facility, warfare has not occurred on American soil since 1865. Even servicemen who have deployed to foreign wars do not understand. For them, their combat service is performed while “in country,” meaning someone else’s country. They have no point of reference from which to understand “taking fire” in one’s own house or having that house destroyed in an instant by an airstrike aimed at someone else.

It is good for Americans to remember September 11, 2001 and how horrifying it was to see a presumably inviolate city touched by the face of war, to see loved ones running for their lives and some not making it out in time. It would be better for Americans to imagine that happening every day or every week. That is reality for the civilians “in country” when war comes to them.

Remembering 9/11 that way might change the conversations we have here about whether or not we prosecute wars of choice. Imagine if we were to see foreign governments casually discussing whether to perpetrate 9/11 on us every week for the foreseeable future, based purely on whether they had any “compelling national interests” or “clear path to victory.” We would burn with hatred and rightly so.

War is the complete abandonment of reason, as John Locke wrote in his famous treatise. It is the last resort when survival is truly threatened. It is the answer to a violent aggressor who has committed acts of war and will not relent. There is no lesser justification for unleashing its indiscriminate destruction.

Let’s hope that Congress remembers 9/11 in its debates about Syria. Each legislator should ask himself: How can I justify a new 9/11 for the people of this country?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Obama administration makes Putin, Russians look like the good guys

putinTAMPA, September 10, 2013 – Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem said earlier today that his government would accept the proposal to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction by the international community, according to the Associated Press. The proposal was made by the Russian government in an attempt to avoid U.S. airstrikes in reprisal for alleged chemical weapons attacks by its Syrian counterpart against rebels and civilians on Aug. 21.

The Syrian government has consistently denied launching the attacks.

President Obama has now reportedly changed the goal of his meetings today with Congressmen from persuading them to approve his military strikes to participating in the diplomatic solution. This begs an obvious question.

Why was it Russia that proposed a diplomatic solution, while the Nobel Peace Prize-winning U.S. president would consider nothing but war?

Indeed, Russian president Vladimir Putin has consistently been a calm voice of restraint and caution during the entire crisis, while Obama has sounded more like Khrushchev than Kennedy.

Syria is a longtime Russian ally and the home to Russia’s only military base outside its borders. The U.S. threats of military action against Syria is only the latest in a long train of provocative actions by the U.S. government towards its former Cold War adversary. As Pat Buchanan wrote in the American Conservative,

“George W. Bush sought to put an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Neither country had requested it. We said it was aimed at Iran. When my late friend, columnist Tony Blankley, visited Russia in the Bush II era, he was astounded at the hostility he encountered from Russians who felt we had responded to their offer of friendship at the end of the Cold War by taking advantage of them.”

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, chiefly for economic reasons. That’s not the same as surrendering to an adversary in a hot war. Yet, the U.S. government has treated Russia more like Germany after the Treaty of Versailles than the major First World power that they remain.

Imagine how the U.S. government would react if Russia were talking about bombing Israel in response to some alleged misdeed?

Yet, Putin has avoided bellicosity in the face of the Obama administration’s refusal to consider anything but military action, asking only that the administration at least wait for all of the evidence to be presented and examined.

Yesterday, it was Putin who proposed a diplomatic solution to the crisis while Obama maintained his full court press for war. This isn’t the first time that Americans have been confronted with bizarre role reversals between their government and Russia’s. At a G20 conference in 2009, while the Obama administration was promoting its housing bailout bill, Putin lectured the administration about the evils of socialism.

“Excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state’s omnipotence is another possible mistake…In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state’s role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated,” said Putin.

For the past four and a half years, the Obama administration has pursued the very interventionist economic policies it had so vehemently criticized the Bush administration for, while the Russian government advised to let the market do more of the work.

During the Syrian chemical weapons crisis, the Obama administration has demonstrated the same eagerness for war, the same rush to judgment and the same disregard for the opinions of the international community and its own citizens that it criticized the Bush administration for in the lead-up to Iraq. It has managed to make the Russians look like the good guys.

That’s because in this case, they are.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

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Does anyone really believe Assad used chemical weapons in Syria?

does anyoneTAMPA, September 6, 2013 – Public opinion polls are virtually unanimous. The American people oppose military intervention in Syria, despite poll questions worded in a way that assumes the Syrian government perpetrated chemical weapons attacks against its own people. The Washington Post/ABC News poll asked:

The United States says it has determined that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in the civil war there. Given this, do you support or oppose the United States launching missile strikes against the Syrian government?”

 

Who could imagine the question being put in words more likely to elicit a favorable response? Nevertheless, Americans were resoundingly against military intervention. 59% said they opposed missile strikes. 36% said they favored them. 5% were undecided.

Results like that in a poll so obviously constructed to achieve the opposite begs the question:

Does anyone really believe the Assad government launched chemical weapons attacks against rebels and civilians?

That virtually every politician and pundit talks about the attacks as if it were proven they occurred and that Assad’s government perpetrated them is beyond surreal. U.N. weapons inspectors say that they won’t even be able to confirm that chemical weapons were used for two more weeks. Yet, the Obama administration says it is not only certain the attack occurred, but that Assad’s government launched it.

This despite strong suspicion that it was the rebels, not the Assad government that launched the chemical weapons attack earlier this year. As reported by Shaun Waterman in the Washington Times on May 6,

“Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss TV there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels seeking to oust Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad had used the nerve agent.”

The rebels stood to gain far more from last month’s chemical weapons attack than Assad. The government had the upper hand in the two-year-old revolution. The attack would increase the chances that an outside force like the U.S. would join the struggle on the rebels’ side. Judge Andrew Napolitano is skeptical that the attack occurred at all and, if it did, that Assad perpetrated it. Writing in the Washington Times, he says,

“Never mind that the photos shown by Mr. Obama’s folks of aid workers ministering to the supposed victims of government gassing show the workers without gas masks or gloves, and never mind that the Assad regime has permitted United Nations weapons inspectors unfettered access to its materiel, and never mind that the president wants to invade Syria before the weapons inspectors issue their report. The president wants us to think that the Assad regime intentionally gassed 1,000 Syrian innocents who were of no military value to the rebels or threat to the regime…”

 

That’s not the only circumstantial evidence questioning the official story. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told Ron Paul Monday on the Ron Paul Channel that the U.S. government has been waiting for an excuse to intervene in Syria since 2011.

“Stratfor is a U.S. intelligence contractor based in Texas and we got hold of five million of their e-mails. They do consulting work for many different government organizations and private organizations. And one of those e-mails from late 2011, December 2011, is a report back from one of their agents meeting with the U.S. Air Force, members of the French military and British military, speaking about what the hopes and game plan was under various circumstances, essentially by the West, by the U.S. and NATO, if you like. And that they really felt that what they needed was for there to be some humanitarian outrage in Syria and that once they had that, that would legitimize going in with a big airstrike,” said Assange.

With no known evidence against the Assad government and strong circumstantial evidence against the rebels, the Obama administration still insists that they have conclusive proof against Assad, but cannot share the evidence. According to the Washington Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s replied,

“Claims that proof exists but is classified and cannot be shown are beneath criticism. “ He added, “If the U.S. says that the al-Assad regime is responsible for that attack and that they have proof, then let them submit it to the U.N. Security Council.”

The Obama administration hasn’t given the American public any more reason to believe it than Putin does. It’s been caught in one lie after another about its domestic spying programs, according to Forbes magazine. It’s also fighting the specter of a war in Iraq over weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist.

The truth of what happened in Damascus last month will be known eventually. Until then, the Obama administration is trying to sell a dog that just won’t hunt to an American public that’s weary of war and has little reason to believe its government about anything.

If experience is any teacher, Americans would be wise to remain incredulous.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Is every nation on earth besides the United States “isolationist?”

kingTAMPA, September 3, 2013 – Just one day after President Obama requested a debate in Congress on military intervention in Syria, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has already trotted out the usual bludgeon against any call for restraint. Bomb Syria or you are an “isolationist.”

“Right now, I would say, if the vote were today, it would probably be a no vote. I’m hoping by the time next week comes around and hopefully the president can make his case that he will be able to get a majority of the House of Representatives. Right now, it would be very difficult and also we have an increasing isolationist wing in our party, which I think is damaging to the party and to the nation.”

Only in America is the word “isolationist” used to describe reluctance to initiate wars of choice. In every other context, that word has a far different meaning.

China had two major periods of “isolationism,” the first starting in the 14th century. For China, isolationism meant cutting off foreign trade, shipping, immigration and emigration.  China entered another period of isolationism under Mao Zedung, again closing its borders and cutting off all commerce with the outside world, other than the Soviet Union.

Japan also had its isolationist period between the 17th and 19th centuries. Isolationism for Japan meant prohibiting trade, immigration, emigration and correspondence with the outside world. It had nothing to do with a reluctance to go to war, much less with a reluctance to get involved in wars that had nothing to do with Japan.

The isolationist policies of China and Japan were considered repressive and backwards, forcibly isolating their citizens from the benefits of trade and friendship with other nations and cultures.

That’s why noninterventionists’ opponents choose to call them “isolationist;” to smear them as backwards and against “progress.” There is even a connotation of selfishness that attaches itself to those who do not support wars of choice. This is ridiculous, of course, but words can be powerful.

The UK Parliament just voted down military action against Syria. Of the other 190 nations of the world, only France joins the United States in supporting a strike.

When the Bush Administration invaded Iraq, only three other nations contributed troops.

The United States now spends more on its military than the next ten nations combined. They have 900 bases in over 100 countries. No nation on earth or in human history comes close to that military footprint.

Is every nation on earth besides the United States “isolationist?”

Despite not being attacked by another nation’s military in over seventy years, the United States has been almost constantly at war.

The active wars combined with maintenance of the massive overseas military establishment has been the single largest contributor to the federal government’s $12 trillion in public debt.

It has also skewed American manufacturing towards producing weapons and armaments, rather than products that enrich the lives of American citizens.

These are just a few consequences of the decision during the last century to abandon the foreign policy of Washington and Jefferson and “go abroad looking for monsters to destroy.”

As the debate in Congress heats up, Rep. King will certainly not be the last one to call those arguing for restraint isolationist. Hopefully, the American public will be more discerning than most media and recognize that friendship and trade with all nations combined with military restraint is not isolationism. It is the opposite.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Why are American citizens financially responsible to defend Syrians?

Tax DayTAMPA, September 1, 2013 — One day after President Obama indicated he would seek a vote from Congress on whether to launch missile strikes against Syria, media outlets have already begun reporting on the debate from a number of perspectives. As usual, one perspective is completely ignored: that of the American taxpayer.

The Constitution grants Congress the power to tax U.S. citizens to provide for the common defense of U.S. citizens, not every soul on the planet. The only exception is for citizens in countries with whom the United States has signed a mutual defense treaty. In those situations, it is assumed that American taxpayers get a reasonably equal benefit back in defense provided to them.

The founders still told us to avoid those alliances whenever possible.

Regardless, the United States has no treaty with Syria. If it did, it would be with the Assad government, not with rebels attempting to overthrow it. Syria has not attacked the United States nor issued a declaration of war against them. There isn’t even a U.N. Security Council resolution for force against Syria, which strict constitutionalists don’t recognize as legitimate anyway.

President Obama is arguing for the United States to intervene militarily solely for “humanitarian” reasons. That begs the question:

How did American taxpayers become financially responsible for protecting Syrian rebels and civilians?

Every other U.S. president has recognized that Americans can only be taxed to pay for their own defense or the defense of allies by treaty. The arguments haven’t always been bulletproof, but at least they have acknowledged this principle.

President George W. Bush made his case for the Iraq War based upon Saddam Hussein’s supposed “weapons of mass destruction.” At one point, the administration went so far as to say that Hussein could strike the United States “within 45 minutes.”

Why did the administration go to such lengths to exaggerate Iraq’s capabilities? Because it recognized that only an imminent threat to American citizens would justify a war against Iraq.

“Operation Deliberate Force” in Serbia was recognized as a NATO operation, meaning the United States participated due to a supposed treaty obligation. President Clinton’s attempts to conduct military operations in Africa and Haiti for humanitarian reasons were met with public and congressional opposition. Both interventions were aborted prior to prolonged involvement.

In Korea and Viet Nam, Americans were told war was necessary to prevent “the domino effect,” where one Asian nation after another would fall to communism, which then would spread to the rest of the world. The theory was proven wrong when North Viet Nam took over South Viet Nam and communism still failed. Still, the stated reason for war was to protect Americans from communist aggression.

President Obama has broken new ground. He has argued that not only does the U.S. government have the authority to tax Americans to defend every human being on the planet, but that the president can order military intervention for that reason on his authority alone.

Unfortunately, this has led many to believe that his decision to wait until Congress debates the intervention is some sort of victory for constitutional government.

It’s not. Nowhere in the Constitution is it stated or implied that American taxpayers are financially responsible for the common defense of the whole world.

Military operations are not funded by donations. Taxpayers are compelled to pay them by force. That’s why the Constitution sets limits to what Americans can be taxed for: “to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.”

As widely as that clause has been interpreted, no one could possibly interpret it to mean defense of Syrian civilians under present circumstances, nor for the citizens of non-treaty partners in any other country.

If the constitution imposes no such financial obligation on American taxpayers, then what does? When and how did American taxpayers consent to it? By what authority is it enforced? When and how will this financial obligation end?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Congress is not authorized to start a war with Syria, either

congress

TAMPA, August 29, 2013 – The British Parliament is debating the U.K.’s response to an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government against rebels and civilians. This prompted Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to tweet a picture juxtaposing the ongoing debate in Parliament with the empty U.S. Congress building.

Cruz and others have expressed the opinion that President Obama cannot take military action against Syria without consulting Congress first.

They’re wrong. Congress doesn’t have the power to start a war with Syria, either, under present circumstances.

Most people misunderstand the declaration of war power as “permission” to start a war. It’s not.

The Constitution grants Congress the power to declare that a state of war already exists. This can only be true if the nation in question has committed overt acts of war against the United States.

This is supported by each and every declaration of war in U.S. history. Each declaration has followed the same format.

1. Congress cites the overt acts of war committed by the nation in question against the United States.

2. It recognizes the existence of the war because of those overt acts.

3. It directs the president to utilize the military to end the war.

The process is somewhat analogous to a criminal trial. The president “makes his case” to Congress that certain actions by a foreign nation amount to acts of war. Congress then deliberates, renders its verdict and passes sentence. The president is directed to execute the sentence.

When James Polk asked Congress to declare war on Mexico in 1846, he said,

“But now, after reiterated menaces, Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon the American soil. She has proclaimed that hostilities have commenced, and that the two nations are now at war.

As war exists, and, notwithstanding all our efforts to avoid it, exists by the act of Mexico herself, we are called upon by every consideration of duty and patriotism to vindicate with decision the honor, the rights, and the interests of our country.

In further vindication of our rights and defense of our territory, I invoke the prompt action of Congress to recognize the existence of the war, and to place at the disposition of the Executive the means of prosecuting the war with vigor, and thus hastening the restoration of peace.

After deliberating, Congress issued the following declaration of war,

“Whereas, by the act of the Republic of Mexico, a state of war exists between that Government and the United States: Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of American in Congress assembled, That for the purpose of enabling the government of the United States to prosecute said war to a speedy and successful termination…”

Note the italicized words. The state of war already exists because of the act of the Republic of Mexico.

Most people remember FDR’s Pearl Harbor speech during which he rattled off the acts of war committed by Japan. “Last night, Japanese forces attacked Wake Island. Last night, Japanese forces attacked Midway Island, etc.” Roosevelt concluded,

“I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”

The framers of the Constitution intended that the president would never initiate planned military action until this process took place. Yes, the president could deploy the military if the British or Spanish were discovered marching through Maryland, a very real possibility at the time.

Otherwise, acts of war had to be committed against the United States before the president directed a military response.

Syria’s government may or may not have used chemical weapons against its own people. It has not committed any acts of war against the United States. Therefore, there is no basis upon which to declare a state of war between Syria and the United States.

The constitution assumes that the only justification to utilize U.S. military resources is to defend U.S. citizens after another nation has initiated a state of war. The only exception is to defend a nation with whom the United States has signed a treaty establishing one of those entangling alliances the founders told us to avoid.

The Syrian conflict meets none of those requirements. Neither Congress nor the president have any constitutional authority to attack.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Syria: The U.S. has learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan

TAMPA, August 28, 2013 —  “And now we’re back where we started. Here we go round again. Day after day I get up and I say I better do it again.”

Apparently, Ray Davies’ lyric has become the U.S. government’s foreign policy. Unfortunately, they’ve added a line to the chorus that Davies left out: Make sure you learn absolutely nothing from the day before.

After twelve years of war, hundreds of thousands of U.S. and foreign civilian casualties and trillions in debt, the U.S. has accomplished nothing in the Middle East. They haven’t eradicated the Taliban or Al Qaeda. There has not been a single regime change favorable to U.S. interests. Americans are not freer. They are less free than they have ever been in U.S. history.

The Obama administration’s response? Do it again.

It’s hard to imagine anyone who does not have a strong sense of déjà vu this morning, as officials from the president on down gear up for a missile strike against Syria. The U.S. and U.K. governments have both issued statements that they have “no doubt” that the Assad government used chemical weapons against rebel forces and civilians. But U.N. inspectors have not concluded their investigation and have issued no such statement confirming anything.

The Assad government denies use of chemical weapons.

If the U.N. inspectors do conclude that chemical weapons were used, there is still reasonable doubt about who used them. There are suspicions that the rebels may have actually deployed the chemical weapons in an attempt to frame the Assad government and persuade the U.S. to enter the war.

In 2003, the Bush administration emphatically warned of the imminent threat that the Saddam Hussein Iraqi government posed to the U.S. and the rest of world. Images of mushroom clouds over U.S. cities were invoked, with the administration making the absurd claim that Hussein could strike the U.S. within 45 minutes.

No such capabilities existed. After the U.S. had invaded the country, destroyed its infrastructure, displaced over two million refugees and set the stage for an Islamic government friendly to Iran to replace the previous secular one which was hostile towards Iran, it admitted that the “WMD” didn’t exist.

The entire eight year debacle accomplished nothing. Zero. Nada.

Now, even the man who wrote up the plan for missile strikes against Syria says that those strikes won’t accomplish anything.

“Tactical actions in the absence of strategic objectives is usually pointless and often counterproductive. I never intended my analysis of a cruise missile strike option to be advocacy even though some people took it as that,” said Chris Harmer, the senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War who wrote up a plan for missile strikes.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been warning for months that intervention in Syria will accomplish nothing favorable to U.S. interests. He’s gone so far as to say that even if the rebels were to win, they would not likely be friendly toward the U.S. government.

There are no “good guys and bad guys” in this struggle. On one side you have an oppressive dictatorship with strong ties to Russia. On the other you have a fundamentalist Islamic coalition of rebels with many different factions, including one that just took a pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Sheik Ayman al-Zawahri.

These are the “freedom fighters” the Obama administration has been backing.

In Afghanistan, the “security forces” that U.S. soldiers are training to supposedly enforce the rule of law and democratic government after the U.S. leaves occasionally kill their trainers. They are restrained only by their own officers who remind them of the weapons the U.S. is supplying them.

This is what thousands of American casualties and trillions of dollars in new debt has bought us. That’s not to mention the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of new terrorists that U.S. intervention has created. Every drone strike against a terrorist leader results in innocent civilian deaths. Fathers, brothers or sons of the dead then dedicate their lives to war against the U.S.

Every bomb launched against Syria will be purchased with borrowed money. Each one will take innocent lives and create new terrorists. According to anyone with any expertise, it will accomplish nothing, although the stated goal is to oust the Assad government and replace it with a fundamentalist Islamic government that is even more hostile towards the United States.

The U.S. just did that in Egypt. It did the same in Iraq. The Taliban is now negotiating with the U.S. and others for an end to the war in Afghanistan, where they may very well return to power.

Einstein is credited with defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

James Madison said that no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. We haven’t. In the past twelve years, we’ve built a frightening police state, turned federal government surpluses into $12 trillion in public debt and accomplished nothing in the Middle East or against terrorism in general.

Let’s not do it again.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Dempsey’s Syria letter raises questions about entire Mideast policy

TAMPA, August 21, 2013 – Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. in an August 19 letter obtained by the Associated Press that the Obama administration is opposed to even limited military intervention in Syria because the rebels wouldn’t support American interests even if they won.

Dempsey said that the U.S. is capable of destroying President Assad’s air force, but that it would plunge the U.S. into another Mideast war with no strategy for peace.

 

Dempsey’s assessment has been criticized by Sen. John McCain, who called a previous letter to Sen. Carl Levin “disingenuous.” According to the Jerusalem Post, McCain said “No one is seriously talking about striking Assad’s naval forces as part of a limited campaign. And no one seriously thinks that degrading Assad’s air power would require hundreds of American military assets. The whole thing is completely misleading to the Congress and the American people, and it is shameful.”

 

It’s time to take a serious look at just who has misled the American people. For twelve years, neoconservatives and other war hawks have presented military intervention in the Middle East as the only way to fight terrorism, bring stability to the Middle East and champion democratic values.

 

Twelve years of active war has failed to achieve any of those goals. Neither has it advanced any U.S. interest in the region, even if that were a justifiable cause for war.

 

Dempsey’s assessment of intervention in Syria highlights lessons the U.S. should have learned by now

 

First, the conflict is not between two sides, one pro-democracy and one dictatorial. It is a many-sided conflict, involving longstanding ethnic and tribal differences, according to Dempsey. No side is pro-U.S.

 

This is much like Afghanistan, where the U.S. attempted to combine military action with bribes, coalition building and humanitarian efforts to “win hearts and minds.”

 

In the end, the government it backed has waffled on supporting U.S. interests. The security forces U.S. military personnel are training have taken to killing their trainers from time to time, restrained only by Afghan officers who discourage the practice because of the weapons the U.S. is providing them.

 

Last month, the Taliban opened an office in Dohar, Qatar to begin negotiating with the U.S. and others to end the war. What that means for stability, democracy or U.S. interests in Afghanistan remains to be seen. The original reason for invading Afghanistan was to remove the Taliban.

 

This after the U.S. left Iraq a nation in chaos, its infrastructure razed, two million refugees displaced, an ancient Christian community destroyed, and a government with strong ties to Iran.

 

U.S. intervention in Egypt has had similar results, where a military junta uses arms purchased with U.S. foreign aid to slaughter those who protest the recent overthrow of a democratically-elected government. That government was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, hardly a result the U.S. welcomed in terms of its own interests or those of its allies.

 

In addition, the Assad regime is a longstanding friend of Russia, which has a naval base in Syria. The Obama and Bush administrations have both unnecessarily strained relations with post-Soviet Russia. Military intervention in Syria could strain them further, with no discernible benefit to the United States.

 

Idealists look at the twelve year U.S. adventure in the Middle East as a righteous mission to bring democracy to the oppressed peoples under dictatorial or Islamic rule. From that perspective, the U.S. has been played for a sucker by a myriad of tribal factions that have cooperated temporarily and then turned on the U.S. the minute cooperation no longer served their interests. Wherever democratic elections have taken place, Islamic governments have been elected with dubious prospects for supporting the U.S. or Israel.

 

Cynics see the period as one of quasi-imperial conquest by the U.S. to remake the political landscape to better serve U.S. interests and secure access to oil and other natural resources. The project has been a disaster from that perspective as well, even if true.

 

It’s time to take a serious look at U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and in general. There are questions that need to be answered.

 

Based upon twelve years of experience, what do we expect to accomplish in the Middle East? How many decades are we willing to stay at war to accomplish it?

 

How much more money are we willing to borrow?

 

What evidence is there that we have accomplished anything? Why will next year be different?

 

If the U.S. is indeed waging “wars of liberation,” how did U.S. taxpayers become financially responsible for the liberty of every soul on the planet? When will this financial responsibility end?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.